Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jones' theory of cock up

I would like to introduce a law that should help make life more readily comprehensible. Feel that the world is against you? Feel oppressed? Maligned? Unfairly treated? Want to know why?

Here are the answers. Jones's three laws of human existence, which are:

1) No person or procedure is infallible.
2) No matter how highly intelligent / educated, no human has their brain switched on at all times.
3) Humanity is governed by the universal law of cock up.

1) Institutions and Governments are made up of people.
2) All people are fallible.
3) All procedures are created by people.

Therefore all Governments and procedures, without exception, are fallible, and subject without exception to the laws of cock up.

Observational proofs:
1) You may fill in the form 'correctly', but you cannot guarantee that it will be read correctly by the recipient, even if the right form reached the correct person in good time.
2) Everyone, even the most intelligent and 'caring', has off days, hangovers, emotional upsets etc which cloud their judgement and make them as friendly as a deranged rattlesnake with a psychotic fetish for ankle biting.
3) Under sufficient negative personal pressure, all people default to negative emotions (Unless the drugs are still working).
4) Even the best happy pills stop working sometimes.
5) They may be out to get you, but the odds are that 'they' will screw up somewhere along the way.
6) The more complex the plan, the greater the likelihood that it will fail spectacularly.
7) The shriller the claims to the contrary, the greater the likelihood of abject failure.
8) 90% of humanity does not use anywhere near 10% of their brain capacity, and the other 10% has 90% less brain capacity than the other 90%.

These rules apply specifically to the UK, although experimenters /researchers in other countries are currently subjecting the above rules to high level axiom destruction procedures.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A little politics

Well, the Sea Lions are barking up in the Neck of Dodd Narrows this morning. The noise is half way between a hound baying and a foghorn. Dog grows ever more insouciant about all the strange noises, although last night he ran out of the house straight into one of the local Black Tail Deer, and both parties beat a hurried retreat. Dog almost bowled me off my feet as he ran back inside. Another walk curtailed.

This morning I've been reading the news to see that Canada may end up having another general election occasioned by a row and possible no confidence vote over the funding of political parties.

Over in the UK they've arrested one Member of Parliament for being in possession of the latest immigration figures and a 'hit list' of potential government parliamentary 'rebels'. Special Branch turned over a constituency office and the MP's home in what would appear to be a clear breach of Parliamentary privilege. There is much outrage being expressed in the public domain, and not a little satire over this affair.

For myself, I'm rather ambivalent about it all, and rather glad I no longer live in the UK. On the other hand, had the arrest been a matter of national security (Aiding and abetting terrorists, selling secrets to foreign powers), then my view is that feeling someone's collar, no matter who they might be, over the matter would have been 'a fair cop, guv'. On the other, as the material would have only embarrassed the incumbent government had it been disclosed during parliamentary question time, I think the arrest is a bit over the top, as the current UK Prime Minister did almost exactly the same thing re disclosure back in 1996, and he never got turned over for it.

This begs the question "Who gave the order?" for Damian Green's arrest. Do they not understand that arresting troublesome opposition MP's has a worrying English historical precedent and a tendency to trigger wider conflict. No wonder UK politicians aren't in favour of an armed populace. On this occasion the Speaker of the House has certainly been found wanting. As for the 'Home Secretary and Prime Minister didn't know', well that's spin; nothing more or less. Arrest a member of the opposition? They are supposed to know. Although telling the current Mayor of London and the leader of the opposition instead smacks of political chicanery on the part of the UK Government. I'd describe it as a pretty blatant attempt at 'deniability' if anyone could be bothered to ask me.

Got notification that after 27th February 2008, it's no use applying for Permanent Residence under the sk1lled migrant program unless you fall under one of the specific occupations on the new list. Our application was put in well before then, and I've been working legally over here for the last year so this new announcement doesn't affect us. I hope. However, if things deteriorate over the other side of the water, then I may end up putting in an application for political asylum.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

IPCC approved technology

Have just run across this wonder of modern technology, as approved (I am assured) by no less august a body than the IPCC using modern climate physics as developed using this model.

Have been introduced to the writings of James P Hogan, and Wife is wondering why I'm smiling so much. Specifically Kicking the sacred cow.

From Vermont Tiger via James P Hogan.

A small excerpt

Thank you to those who were kind enough to take note of my febrile mental meanderings about Nuclear Fusion. Here is the passage from my MSS 'a sky full of stars' giving a brief laymans description how I concieve a Nuclear Fusion reactor might be made to work.
Inside the fusion reactor behind their compartment, multiple toroids of plasma formed, began to spin, merge, then intersected and with a sudden roaring crackle burst into a star hot fusion reaction. Electrostatic grids bled off the energy into hungry batteries and uncharged coils, power greedy drives sucking at the immediate abundance of energy, ready to push the forty metre long octagonal cylinder into a higher orbit.

It's just a rough idea of course, but what I conceive is rather like having a Farnsworth type central chamber with a number of accelerator, or Tokamak style coils feeding 'streams' of accelerated plasma into and out of it.

The mathematics of such a device are beyond me, since I am just a wannabe Science Fiction writer with several MSS currently sitting in a number of publishers 'slush piles' awaiting reading. Sometimes in my gloomier moments I wonder if they have not already been put in file 13.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Idle fusing musing

I've been watching the progress of the polywell type reactor with a great deal of interest. The first results appear encouraging, and although Nuclear Fusion was not obtained, they have been able to generate plasma.

Now I’m no nuclear Engineer, but I’ve been fascinated by the results obtained by Dr Richard Nebel and his team with the WB-7 fusion device. Whilst only having a rough understanding of Nuclear Fusion, I find myself wondering thus; what would happed if you took several small Tokamak type devices and arranged them so that several plasma toroids intersected at the same point in a polywell type containment chamber. Rather like in the Polywell, but with better control of the plasma flows. Kind of a cross between the Tokamak and Polywell Fusion concepts.

If anyone can be bothered to read this; and you understand I may be way off beam here, as I understand it the Tokamak design accelerates a plasma toroid within a magnetic containment field, firing high energy lasers into the toroid to achieve Fusion. The Polywell design tries to bring several plasma streams together at a single point to achieve Nuclear Fusion. Both methods are close, but so far, the only man made Nuclear Fusion has been achieved in a Thermonuclear Detonation where a Fission device is used to trigger a Fusion reaction.

I may just be showing my complete and utter ignorance of the subject, but if a Tokamak can achieve plasma containment, rotating a plasma toroid at high speed, and a Polywell can obtain plasma at a point but seems to suffer from poor containment; say you have a Tokamak type coil array which can guide plasma in a stable (ish) toroid; if you arrange four or six Tokamak type coil arrays mounted in a circular pattern which have a third of the plasma path open into a using Polywell type vacuum containment chamber. The idea being to make all six plasma toroids intersect around a central point in the containment chamber at high speed with enough cumulative energy to begin a Nuclear Fusion reaction. Maybe three should be contra rotating to converge the Hydrogen ion plasma streams together at close to light speed whilst keeping the start up energy cost down. 'Fuel' in the form of Hydrogen / Boron / Tritium / Deuterium etc could be injected from the coils rather than directly into the containment chamber.

Again, I may be talking through my figurative hat, but my training and my job are partly about thinking outside the box and I also write Science Fiction. Am I on to something here, or are there factors I’m not aware of that would militate against such a solution?

I've envisaged just such a power plant as the Fusion Generator which powers the first Earth built generation of Faster Than Light Omega spacecraft in my MSS 'A sky full of stars'. May all be complete cobblers of course, but it's good enough for fiction.

Good news if that Gas prices on the Island have dipped under ninety cents a litre (88.9 cents or about 48 UK pence a litre at current exchange rates). Hmm. Maybe some people can't afford to speculate in the market and artificially inflate the prices any more. Have also been amazed at the level of intellectual impoverishment that leads people to parade around in the snow carrying banners saying 'stop global warming now'. In the snow? What drugs are these people on? Bet if I wandered past a few of them I would catch the distinctive heavy sweet odour of Marijuana as I passed by. They don't call it 'dope' for nothing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Have been looking at one of my old MSS in an attempt to make it more saleable. The story is fine, no problem there. Epic scale, love, hate, revenge and all the old hokum. It's just the central character. He doesn't work too well. Any old how. I've had a bit of an epiphany today and will be changing him a bit. Making him younger and altering the circumstance of his genesis. Not Harry Potter young, but late teens graduating up into early 20's. Plenty of scope for the complexities of a hormone driven adolescence, teenage angst etc.

I'm over my fit of pique at being lumped in with people who believe that there's some big Government 'Conspiracy' which faked the Moon landings, wierd ideas about ice trails left by passing Jets and the Assassination of JFK. I've gone past that and am buckling down to work to produce saleable product. First job is to produce a short screenplay to see how one section of the story works in a more visual medium, and if it turns out good enough I'll pitch it at someone I know over in Vancouver. You never know, I might even sell the bloody thing.

Am I a conspiracist?

Well until I read that not believing in ‘global warming’ could make you a conspiracy theorist, I would have thought it quite reasonable to assume that someone was promoting the ‘cause’ against hard evidence. Never even considered that I was a conspiracy nut. Now, according to the UK Daily Telegraph, believing that there must be some kind of agenda for promoting the idea of Anthropogenic climate change makes you a whack job conspiracy theorist. Admittedly it is number 29 on the list, but to put it ahead of ‘Chemtrails’? Oh come on guys, get real.

Real conspiracy theories are based on a strange logic that can leap tall buildings (and factual evidence) in a single bound. A really good one is that all those who do not believe in Anthropogenic climate change are in the pay of ‘Big oil’. Funnily enough, the amount garnered in funding from the oil companies and other sources (Under $10 million) is dwarfed by the absolutely wodges of dosh being chucked around to promote the opposing view (An admitted $300 Million and then some). Kayaking to the North Pole to 'prove global warming', and being stopped by ice a good four degrees of latitude earlier than Nansen's attempt in 1893. Yet he was lauded for his 'success' at 10 Downing Street. Go figure. That's flying in the face of historical evidence for you. Despite being told that the Polar Bear is declining, more reputable sources say that the population has undergone a fivefold increase since the 1960's. It has all the hallmarks of a conspiracy, but I don't think the people promoting 'the end is nigh' are clever enough for that.

The facts are out in the real world. Not in the distorting mirror of certain media outlets editorial policy. CO2 is not the answer. It's an excuse.

In academia it’s been almost a running joke for several years that sticking ‘and the effects / influence of climate change’ into the title of your research proposal is a guaranteed way to get funding. People who take the contrary view are denied a media platform. This is not conspiracy, it's actually happening.

When 31,000+ people (Meteorologists and Climatologists included) with high level degrees (Over 3000 with Doctorates) sign a thing called the Manhattan declaration, does that not give it more validity than the 2,500 claimed to have contributed to the latest IPCC report? Although according to several sources, only four actual papers were quoted from in the IPCC's 2007 report. Yet the IPCC report is given credence, even when the figures it relies on have been cherry picked from a very small data sample.

Even when temperature figures have to be adjusted using an obscure methodology which GISS won’t publicise and doesn't match the more accurate Satellite data. McIntyre successfully debunked Manns ‘Hockey stick’ graph showing that you could put almost any data you pleased, and the damn thing would still put out the distinctive sudden upward trend. Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre forced NASA's GISS into a 2007 'climbdown' over the statement that the 1990's was the warmest decade on record (It's actually the 1930's, a period of industrial decline). Temperature measurements are taken from recording stations in hot spots on car parks, and by other local heat sources which give false positives on temperature data. See for the results. What’s not to get?

To suggest that Earth’s temperature increases are all mankind’s fault, or that the days are sunny / rainy / snowy / whatever is not only hubris but downright irrational when you actually look at the evidence. Did stone age man go into paroxysms of guilt believing his camp fires had caused all the ice to melt and kill off the Mammoths? Get a grip. This planet could lose mankind tomorrow and within a hundred years you’d be hard pressed to find any trace of us as a species.

Additionally, Eco-journalism is the fat teat upon which many humble scriveners have set their metaphorical lips. I don’t blame them. There’s lots of money in it and we all have to eat.

Every company that makes Nuclear, Wind or Solar generation equipment has something to gain by promoting the ‘End is nigh unless you do something about it by purchasing our products’ viewpoint. The EU is actively promoting ‘carbon trading’. That isn’t conspiracy; it’s bloody cold hard fact. There’s serious money to be made. Providing of course everyone is happy to pay extra to the 'carbon traders' for the necessities of everyday life (Goods need transport, transport needs fuel, a 'Carbon levy' on fuel will drive the price of transported goods up).

No wonder any contrary view is being demonised. No wonder the ice cap increase in Antarctica and the near record Arctic ice growth is studiously ignored in the mainstream media, yet every sunny day is supposedly a ‘symptom of global warming’. Every cold day too. They get you coming and going. Oh and the 'warmest on record' reporting isn't worth a damn if your records only go back thirty years. When it comes to climate, you need centuries of data to 'prove' a trend. This isn't just me, there are some quite eminent people out there saying it too. Funny how so many are 'retired'and no longer have to worry about jobs or funding isn't it? People in the media or politics who speak out against the CO2 theory are being sidelined or even sacked. This too is incontravertible fact. So where's the flaming conspiracy?

I’m just amazed anybody believes in the anthropogenic viewpoint any more.

Me, I'm fed up of the whole AGW business and only go commenting to counter the outright falsehoods and misrepresentations. The politicians who see the hype and jump on the bandwagon to raise taxes to buy votes for themselves. The companies who use the palaver simply to promote their products. The mainstrean media outlets who use it to sell copies. Panderers all. If the proposed taxes only affected them and not me I'd blithely sail on by and snigger behind my hand at all the fuss. It's Piltdown Man all over again. Paley's watchmaker fallacy.

Belief in the Anthropogenic CO2 (man made CO2) theory of climate change / global warming is symptomatic of everyday people's inability to understand technology, post millennial anxiety if you will. It is a natural reaction for people to fear what they do not understand, that much is hard wired into most humans as a survival strategy. Ergo they take comfort in various religions and other anti technological belief systems, of which Man made climate change is one. Believing in Aliens from outer space is another.

To conclude; I'm not mad. There isn't a conspiracy. It's just a massive cock-up and I'm genuinely pissed off with being lied to. That is all. Now I have better things to do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And in closing.......

What doesn't it cause? From Numberwatch via Climate-Skeptic, Tom Nelson and Marc Morano.

Right, this is the phenomenon that's got the current President elect of the USA all steamed up. He promises 'action' on climate change. Seems like it won't be only Bush that people will be calling stupid in the future. Glad the Harper administration north of the 49th parallel doesn't seem so keen on economic suicide. Canadians know about cold.

A climate confession (Or Why I became a 'denier')

Once I believed in the theory of global warming. I thought, quite sincerely, that mankind was going to destroy life on Earth with an excess of CO2.

Being of an enquiring mind, I began to look at the figures and theories to gain a greater understanding of the subject to see if there was more I could do. What actually happened was that all my researches gave me quite a large reality check. The physics just didn't stack up. The increased CO2 levels actually lagged, not led an increase in temperature. There were proper, peer reviewed scientific papers about ice cores which proved this beyond all reasonable doubt.

Then I began to look at the history of climate over the past few millennia. Ice (or frost) fairs on the Thames? Greenland with thriving agricultural communities? Vineyards in northern England? Northwest passage ice free? All of these things are well recorded throughout our history. All well before human mass industrialised society. What on Earth was going on?

I looked at the effect of volcanic eruptions upon regional climate. I looked at the sunspot cycles, magnetosphere variations, the cosmic ray correlations of cloud formation, and then had a second long cool look at the original theory of CO2 climate change. In order to 'work' the theory needs an infinitely thick atmosphere, which planet Earth doesn't have. In addition, CO2 only trapped sunlight in two specific wavelengths. This was a bit of a revelation to me. My own amateur research, designed to gain a greater understanding of man made climate change actually led me to a change of heart.

The doom laden predictions in the media also made me pause for thought. Then I began to look at the old 'new ice age' predictions from the 1970's. Industry was on the decline in the Western hemisphere and people were already talking about a 'post industrial society' as early as the 1980's. So where was all this extra CO2 coming from? Cars alone? Yes, but improved engine technology is resulting in cleaner air. I remember what walking along the streets could be like before cleaner burning car engines became commonplace. The diesel fumes alone used to give me massive migraine type headaches. The same for jet engine technology. Power stations were becoming more efficient, and fluidised bed technology and reclaim technology was resulting in air cleaner than I could remember. Especially in the cities. Smog is less common than it was, and I remember how downright dirty the air in Birmingham, England could be back in the 1970's. In the late 1990's I genuinely thought we were winning the war on human produced air pollution.

Then there were the long range forecasts. My faith in those disappeared back in the 1980's after a series of weather events were gotten completely wrong by no less august a body than the UK Meteorological Office. They weren't just wrong, they made the opposite prediction. Likewise, all the predictions of global catastrophe I've been reading since the 1970's all have one major factor in common; they haven't happened.

When I looked more deeply at the physics and geophysics, I realised the doom and gloom predictions couldn't happen. For example, one prediction was about the Gulf Stream grinding to a sudden halt. To understand why this cannot happen you have to look at the Earth's ocean currents as a whole. The northwards flowing Gulf stream has a correlating deep water sister that provides recirculation of arctically cooled water, and as warm water flows on the surface, this flows underneath it to rise southward in warmer tropical waters and be reheated to become the Gulf stream again. If you think how many cubic miles of water this shifts in a day, you begin to see how idiotic this specific prediction is. The Gulf stream, and North Atlantic drift are part of the global Thermohaline (THC) circulation of ocean waters. The energy level changes for such an event would require a massive freezing, not warming. As I have posited before, the Physics just doesn't stack up. The disaster predictions are, if viewed objectively, downright anti-scientific. They are almost without exception emotional, and have more to do with politics than science.

Now there is a warming effect from greenhouse gases. Without it the Earth would be much colder. This warming effect has a limit though, and can be thought of as a blanket around the Earth. This 'blanket' also radiates a varying amount of energy out into space. Like an actual woollen blanket it can only retain so much heat energy. Anyone who has actually spent a night sleeping under the stars can confirm this. It can get awfully cold, even in tropical climes at night, and that is exactly what half our little blue green home world is sitting in; night. Year in, year out. Out of the glare of the sun, the temperature of space is very cold. Minus two hundred and seventy six degrees Celsius cold. Cold enough to freeze the very oxygen in your haemoglobin, and then some. That is what Earth orbits in. Without the suns heat there would be no little blue green world at all, because all the complex systems that produce the water and air could not happen. This is a very simplified view of an extremely complex system, but for all that is nonetheless valid because it works as it does.

There was also the political aspect. Back in my activist days (Tree planting, campaigning against green belt development), it was all rather genteel; and apart from raised voices in meetings and threats of lying down in front of earth moving machinery, the Environmental lobby was a small and mostly local affair. In the 1990's however, I noticed new voices at the back. More strident, more extreme. Quite frankly what the more conservative of our number called "serious wierdo's" were joining the movement. Those who didn't baulk at using violent tactics. The extreme Animal Rights activists, previously a minority, became mainstream. As did the anti-roads protesters. In the face of the new extreme Environmentalism I felt sidelined, my more low key views about a balanced environment ignored. Gradually I stopped going to meetings and disassociated myself from the various causes. Then when GreenPeace started telling lies over Brent Spar that was the last straw for me and as I watched the other causes like the World Wildlife Fund and RSPCA become ever more politicised, I knew that they were not causes I could support any more.

Then there was Al Gore's film, 'an inconvenient truth'. That was so full of pseudo scientific nonsense that it actually made me actively disbelieve in man made climate change. It was partially because of the misrepresentations within that film that I became a 'climate change atheist'. Nothing to date has made me want to change that outlook. In fact as the pro man made climate change lobby grows ever more shrill and hysterical, calling people who don't agree with them 'Climate criminals', 'Climate change deniers' or in the pay of 'Big Oil' oh pur-leaze!, I grow ever more convinced that they have lost the debate. My reasoning is this, if they had truth on their side, they wouldn't need to call people names when they disagreed with them.

Someone is bankrolling these strident voices. Probably not directly, but there is a small number of very rich people who stand to lose big time if 'Carbon trading' doesn't pay off. Al Gore alone is reputed to have pumped three hundred million dollars into the cause of promoting the apocalyptic view. That's not loose change. It has been suggested that companies with a vested interest in 'Green' technology have been implicated in promoting the anthropogenic element.

This is my last word on the subject; any effect man has on the 'climate' is generally localised. CO2 alone can't be the culprit because it has both physics and history against it.

It's not that the climate doesn't change, it's just that any human element is minimal and overall, inconsequential. The climate changes without, and even in spite of humankind. Committing economic seppuku for something they had no control over will be a very sad epitaph for the Western democracies.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I like this man

Roger Helmer MEP, speaking in debate in the EU Parliament. A fuller version of his quite reasonable view that climate change alarmism is simply that; alarmism. Don't agree with everthing he says, but most is backed up by sound logic and calm appreciation of the facts, not the hype. Find it here. At 29 minutes and 18 seconds it's a bit of a long furrow to plough, but it had me nodding along in agreement.

H/T An Englishmans Castle

Where he and I fundamentally disagree is my contention that you have to have a vested interest, be economically and scientifically illiterate or have your head stuck up between your pert little buttocks to believe all the global warming climate scare stories. It's just weather, and to paraphrase a quote from the Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam;
“The moving clouds do rain, and having rained move on. Nor all thy clamouring nor all thy cries, can say that cloud was raining lies.”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Standing in the rain

Ah, good old ELO. I once lived around a mile up the road from their drummer, Bev Bevan. Nice bloke, and still breathing. He had a big place, think it was called 'Cornerways' or something like that, near the Warwickshire village of Rowington. Big old mock tudor house with a lawn the would give a New Brunswicker palpitations of jelousy (They like acre sized yards in New Brunswick. That and big decks. "Hey, honey, come sit on my big deck." or "Look at the size of my deck."). Wonder if he still owns it.

Damp foggy day all day today here on our part of Vancouver Island with visibility around 100 metres. Not a Sunday for getting out and about, just a day for snuggling down and keeping warm. Oh, and trying to fine tune the Synopsis for the current MSS. Next is the sequel, followed by an attempt to re-draft my half finished Cerberus trilogy.

Am watching the current financial crunch with a certain heaviness of heart. It had to come, but I would rather that it wasn't taking such a bite out of our capital as it is. No matter, we have to earn our way in this world, and that is what I and Wife are doing. Standing in the rain. Doing our best.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A small act of remembrance

Today is Remembrance or Armistice day, a national holiday in Canada, so I thought I'd dust off my Dad's old medals and post them. They're nothing special. No conspicuous bravery, no mentions in despatches, just four bits of metal that say 'He was there'.

Left to right:
France & Germany Star
The Italy Star
1939-1945 Star
War Medal

Monday, November 10, 2008


Proof of global warming? Or is it just that shrinking (Not) Arctic ice cap that's to blame?

H/T Theo Spark

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Remembrance Sunday

Juno Beach, June 1944. Canadian Troops disembarking. In one of the LST's (Landing Ship Tank) pictured in the background is a (then) 19 year old Royal Naval Signals Rating who grew up to be my Dad.

Lest we forget.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Alternative food strategies

Wife wants to lose more weight. To do this she has enacted a new edict; that there shall be no more potatoes, pasta, rice or flour served at mealtimes. Nor shall there be any 'healthy' options ready meals. Yet the demand is that the high protein element of the meal (Chicken / Beef / Pork / Fish etc.) shall not be served just with green vegetables.

Being the chief cook and bottlewasher in the household, it falls to yours truly to come up with the goods. Being the obliging husband I am, I've been scratching my head to find a lower carbohydrate alternative that isn't too sweet, perfumed or pulpy for our mutual likings. As Wife likes to put it; "Here's a new challenge for you Jones." As always, I sigh heartily and brace myself unto the task. It's either that or divorce proceedings.

Finally, an answer to my culinary conundrum has been found; Hummus (Or Homous, whatever). A higher protein, lower carbohydrate alternative which can be adapted to go with just about anything. One problem I have with the store bought stuff is firstly it's a pricey alternative to rice, pasta or potatoes at CDN$1.99 for 100g, and secondly it's full of stuff like Sesame paste (Tahini) which I've always found leaves a slight bitter aftertaste. Notwithstanding, there have been two issues to address; firstly price, and secondly flavour.

The cost I take care of by buying dried chick peas and olive oil, the two main ingredients, in bulk. Last purchase of Chick peas was 500g (Just over a pound weight) at CDN$3.90 a kilo. Which works out at about CDN$1.95 (roughly 1GBP). For Olive Oil, I buy the cheap stuff a litre at a time, which is about CDN$7-8 (around 4GBP /litre) if you buy carefully. A litre will make a lot of Hummus. Garlic I generally get at CDN$2 for 3 cloves, and a 3lb bag of Onions for CDN1.60.

Flavour, well, I've taken to adding any savoury spice / vegetable I fancy after the base mix has been prepared. Sea salt and black pepper with Parsnip. Broccoli with a pinch of Parmesan is nice. Beetroot with salt and pepper. Coriander and / or Cumin. Any of these are easy to do and damned impressive is you have someone to impress with your limited culinary skills.

Garlic Hummus Base mix method:
Stick half a pound (about 250g) of dried chick peas in a basin and pour in a litre or so of water. Leave to soak overnight then boil chick peas until soft. Failing that, put the whole shooting match in a saucepan and bring to boil, then turn down the heat and simmer (slow boil over minimum heat) until the peas can be mashed with a fork. Take off heat and drain for a couple of minutes.

Using a potato masher or food processor, mash the peas. Fine chop a largish onion and soften thoroughly in a little water brought to the boil for five or so minutes. Take off heat and drain. Add to softened Onion to mashed peas and mash some more. Crush and fine chop three cloves of Garlic, add to mix and mash. Add a cupful (150-200ml) or less of Olive oil to the mix and mash further until the chick peas, onion and garlic mixture resembles golden grainy mud like in the picture below.

Decant into bowl of choice. Can be served still warm as is, or left to cool in fridge for later use. Experience shows that the resultant mix will keep for a couple of weeks in an old sealed margarine tub without going manky. Pat yourself on the back, you have made Hummus. Now go off and split the atom or something else equally as ingenious. You are officially a clever person.

Additional flavourings;
Once the base mix is done, all you have to do is take out as much as you need and add flavouring of choice, be it salt and black pepper, red pepper, chili, curry powder, you name it. I've taken to adding whizzed up (Liquefied in food processor) Broccoli with a large pinch of Parmesan or other strong cheese. Beetroot with sea salt and a dash of vinegar. The mix can be briefly heated in a saucepan or microwave and served hot if desired. Makes for variety and prevents boredom. This also means you can invite any Vegetarians (Should they be fortunate enough to have you for a friend, or any friends at all, apart from other like minded moralisers) over to dine and without bestirring them to their usual state of high moral rectitude.

For those who might complain "But where's the Tahini?" I usually try to explain that we like it better this way. Well, at least until Wife gets bored with Hummus as an accompaniment to every meal. I give it a month, maybe even two weeks before she's asking me for buttered baked potatoes, french fries, Lasagna, or garlic fried rice again. Heavy sigh.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Yet another musical interlude

Another blast from my past. Foreigner's track 'Urgent' from 1981 with a Sax solo that just blows you away. The kind of songs that just grip you by your hair and drag you along.

....and of course 'Bad Company' by Bad Company.
Plus this track, 'Rock and Roll fantasy'.

Whenever I listen to these tracks I'm always taken by the sheer musicianship of these guys. No cheap three chord thrash. You can pick out every note, drumbeat and chord. Superb.

No sign of last nights nocturnal visitor, so I assume he's gone looking for a meal elsewhere. Hi ho, back to the grindstone.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wild life

I think we have a Cougar in the area. A big ugly moggy. One of these.
Went out to hand our landlady the monthly rent cheque this evening when we heard a noise like nothing I'd ever heard before. A kind of double scream repeated. One long cry followed by a shorter one, twice. A bit like the scream of an Eagle, but without that raspy quality big birds have in their cries, yet definitely not human. The scream, definitely not a screech, was from quite close to, less than a hundred and fifty metres if my educated ears are any judge.

Landlady looked alarmed but before she disappeared indoors I was treated to the gossip that a Cougar had been sighted recently about a mile away, so it might just have been one. Although I've never actually seen a North American Cougar in the flesh. Not that keen on meeting one close to without a gun in my hands, although I'm told they're quite shy of people, so perhaps the chances are fairly remote.

Landlady's cat also disappeared sharpish which is another clue, as that particular domestic feline isn't fazed by any of our population of Bald Eagles or the local dogs. He doesn't take any nonsense from the Raccoons either, feisty little so-and -so. Whatever made the noise has to be a bit out of the ordinary as Dog is fussing and can't settle. Well, if it hangs around for a few days I'll give the Wildlife Officer a ring and ask what they do about Cougars, if anything. I know they trap Black Bear (Ursus americanus vancouveri) and relocate them. Not sure about Cougars.

If we do have a Cougar locally then our local population of Black-tail (Mule) Deer had better look out, although I think they are more at risk from the traffic. One sturdy looking buck bounced across the road right in front of me when I was driving home this afternoon. Good test of reflexes I can tell you. Good test of my vans brakes too.

For myself I'm not awfully troubled as I usually tote a fairly hefty five foot long wooden walking pole when I go out. This is to take pressure off an old Rugby injury which flares up from time to time, but also for feeding to predators who get too close to Dog. Point first, a la kebab if you catch my drift. Although my older brother's assertion that "My first confrontation with a Bear will be your last". While Dog and I are out walking in the woods I give Mr Bruin plenty of time to get out of the way by calling loudly to Dog. I try to work on the principle that most wild animals (With the notable exceptions of Grizzly or Polar Bears) generally have the sense to leave people alone unless surprised, starving or provoked. In this way we do not confront, we co-exist.

Gosh, all this excitement fair wears you out. Time for a Jameson's I think.

Real Comedy

The physical, in the shape of the infamous Morcambe & Wise mimed 'Breakfast sketch'.

And arguably one of the best verbal comedy sketches of all time from Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A couple of blasts from my past

Fire on High. Track one, side one from 'Face the Music'.

'Big wheels', from the 'Out of the Blue' double album. Can't remember the track off the top of my head. Think it was on the same disc as 'Mr Blue Sky' and 'Summer and Lightning'. Web searches bring it up as track 11, side one, disc one. Lost my copy in the move from England. Heavy sigh.

I like these videos.

Michael Crichton RIP

Michael Crichton, author, died of cancer at the age of 66 today. The creator of such works as 'The Andromeda Strain', 'Jurassic park' and 'Timeline' will be sadly missed. Liked his output, and I recall devouring the Andromeda Strain on the day of purchase, sitting in coffee bars, on trains and later at home, reading continuously.

I can only wish my own work could be so well received. God speed Michael.

Things I never knew could happen

Price of gas locally has just edged below a dollar a litre which should make travelling a bit cheaper. Nice day, but quite brisk outside and I've started to wonder when the first low level snows will arrive. Friends who have lived on the island for some time are remarking that it feels distinctly colder this year.

Was watching some UK Webcams last night and found out that apparently it's illegal to walk through parts of London, England in fancy dress. Some people I know did this in the early hours of the morning (4am Pacific Standard Time, 12pm GMT) and were accosted by some council employees who 'arrested' them.

I don't get this. With all London's ethnic diversity, why was a group of apparently law abiding citizens thus treated? They chanted no slogans. They carried no placards. They brandished no weapons. They just walked, chatting to each other while some of them wore masks like these. They posed no threat to public order. What is going on over there?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A musical interlude

Just found this old Moody Blues track on Youtube. There are a lot of good memories associated with it, and I will be passing the time while waiting for a few people I know to take a little walk in fancy dress in London. Cannot be there, so I'm going to stay up late and watch the fun, or lack of it, via webcam. If of course the webcams aren't shut down for some reason.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just a voice in the wilderness

Tidying up the MSS for marketing (3rd re-write so far) and took a break to give Dog a walk. I never realised the woods could be so noisy. A neighbours dog, barking over half a mile away was almost deafening. Falling Maple leaves that have plated the paths and trails with gold make a surprisingly loud papery rattle as they bounce from twig to twig in their leisurely plummet towards the ground. The far off noise of a Woodpecker trying its best to get a migraine with the loud 'pock-pock-pock' of their burrowing into tree trunks with their beaks. Dog panting like an unfit asthmatic. Squirrels arguing in the distance over who gets the last of the nuts. Not forgetting the irritating buzz of an outboard with a faulty or no muffler, running at full tilt down the neck of the Narrows.

Am trying to avoid thinking about the US elections, although it seems the world and next doors cat has an 'Opinion' on the matter. The Mainstream Media seem to want Barack Obama for the next US President from what I can see, and if he doesn't win by a huge landslide, there are a lot of people who will be looking very red faced if he doesn't. Me, I think that the US public will vote for who they vote for tomorrow, and there's an end to the matter. Just so long as whoever gets the job doesn't make a complete mess of things, I'm pretty much okay with that.

That's about as non-partisan as I get; although if they go ahead with the ludicrous carbon 'cap and trade' regulations, may the good Lord have mercy on the US (And world) economy. The UK's bunch of economic illiterates seem to think that passing the 'climate change bill' will change the climate (It won't). Might totally screw the economy, but as the UK is hopefully a part of my past, I really am not that concerned. Sorry for sounding so uncaring, but when I was there I lobbied my MP, wrote to the papers, voted my conscience, but I was in a minority. The part of the electorate that went to the polls disagreed. That's Democracy for you.

Now I'm just another ex-pat, making my way the best way I can until my permanent residency application gets processed. I'm in Canada, I'm gainfully employed and contributing to the Canadian economy. All I need is a sympathetic agent or publisher, and who knows?

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Back in high school, one of the things that always stuck with me in Science lessons was how the Earth was in a constant state of change. Mountains erode, and rain washes the erosion into the sea where it turns into sediment, and after an Eon or two, plate tectonics turns it into dry land again, and maybe into a mountain if it gets folded enough. Animals live, they grow, predate on other things, then they die and are either consumed in their turn by other creatures, or the tissue is broken down into it's basic components and recycled.

I think I heard somewhere that in every breath we take we are rebreathing several molecules once exhaled by Leonardo Da Vinci. Everything we have is second hand. Our basic elements were created many billions of years ago in the heart of suns and supernovae (I am of the mind that there is nothing 'Intelligent' about 'Intelligent design', but that's just my opinion). Matter itself is said merely to be organised energy.

You might think stuff is the same as in your grandparents day, but if you look at the process of life, everything changes. Rivers change their courses. Volcanoes erupt or become quiescent. Deserts grow or shrink. Coral atolls grow on extrinct underwater peaks. Nothing stays the same. Things wear out and get fixed or rust. Eventually, Deep time makes basic elements of us all. Life is a massive recycling machine. Even our pollution eventually gets recycled, although it does a lot of damage in the short to medium term.

Ocean currents shift. An underwater landslide might block a deep water current so that is forces the flow towards the surface, the resultant upwelling might displace other currents which are local climate drivers. This might alter local rainfall for a few years causing local droughts or flooding. These mechanisms can and do occur. They are recorded both in scientific study and by historical anecdote. Mostly they stay local. For example, a number of small English fishing ports have been effectively turned into inland villages when storms have choked their harbours with sediment.

Now this isn't to say that humankind doesn't have an effect; it does. Local sea defences alter minor currents, shifting erosion patterns, creating and submerging low lying land. This is old tech. The Dutch have been reclaiming land for centuries. East Anglia has a great deal of land 'reclaimed' from the sea. Clear logging changes the transpiration patterns from trees affecting local rainfall. For example in BC the trees put out so much moisture after a wet day that you might be forgiven for thinking whole mountains are on fire.

Overgrazing can create deserts. Incidentally, it is a very bad idea to give a Goat to poor families in areas where the grazing is poor. Goats, in sufficient numbers, create deserts. Deserts and deforestation can create local climate variations. Enough of these variations can cause regional variations which can alter global climate. By contrast, variations in Solar output (Like the current minima) cool the Earth down and this can cause all sorts of effects which there is little or nothing humankind can do about.

As a child, I used to get all het up and anxious that the sun might stop working suddenly one day. No more sunlight. Everything freezes and everything dies. For several years I used to have periodic bouts of anxiety about this until I learned a little fatalism. Some have abandonment anxiety, some obsess about their appearance and social groups. I was fretting about the sun stopping working, go figure. I was about eight years old at the time. Serves me right for being such a bookish child.

I think what I'm trying to say is this; You can tax all you like. You can cut down as many forests as you like. It won't make a difference in the long term (Apart from make a lot of poor people poorer). We are part of the Earth. We affect, and are affected by Earth. Everything shifts, everything changes, there's nothing you can do long term but get used to it and enjoy the ride. It's called life. Douglas Adams (With whom I almost share a birthday) had it right in the Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy. There's nothing you can do about it so don't panic. Or strive for the stars, which might not be such a bad idea.

Now I have to breakfast and walk Dog. Fall is a little more intense this year, a little cooler. I shall just wrap up warm and enjoy the scenery.